Keywords People Use To Find My Blog

I am always curious what people are looking for when they come to my blog. Occasionally I look at the keywords stats in Google Analytics to decide what interests or needs people have and this helps form my thoughts about what blogs are needed or desired. I did that tonight.

Here are the top 10-keyword searches for today. In parenthesis is the number of times those words or something very similar were searched for as of 7 PM today.

  1. Gary Lamb (22)
  2. Bible verse God will not put any more on you than you can handle (18)
  3. How to win back wife’s heart (13)
  4. Discipline for Children (11)
  5. Ten characteristics of good leadership (10)
  6. How to hear from God (8)
  7. How to recover from failure (7)
  8. Bad bosses (6)
  9. Define Team Player (6)
  10. Mothers who control their sons (4)

It appears most people today are interested in family issues, work, and their relationship to God.

What issues would you like to see covered in this blog?

Capitalism Involves Risk, That’s What Makes It Capitalistic

Lately I have heard the phrase “increased regulation”a lot regarding our current economic and banking system. I even heard the president recently say that we must “strengthen regulation to insure this economic crisis never happens again”. I am not a politician nor am I an economist, and this is purely based on my opinion, not my expertise, but those words seem contradictory to me of what we have attempted to establish as a nation, regardless of one’s political persuasion. (I have spent far more time applauding the new president for his family life and leadership ability on this blog, so I should be entitled to offer some criticism as well.  Read some good things I have to say about him HERE and HERE.)  I am not advocating that we do not need new regulations and I am certainly for government protecting those who cannot protect themselves and for making an even playing field, but the point I am making is that I believe it is naïve to think we can ever regulate ourselves out of economic downfalls in a capitalistic society.

In a purely free-market society there will be seasons of prosperity and seasons of despair. There will be those who gain wealth and those who lose wealth. The more freedom that is given allows the more risks that will be taken and the more mistakes that will be made. No one who knows anything about capitalism should be too surprised at where we are today considering some of the abuse of the system, which has occurred in recent years, but that is part of the system. If there is any regulation needed, protecting from that type of abuse may be warranted, but we should never assume that if we provide enough rules our economy will never suffer.

Recently while I was in Lithuania I spoke with some people who want the country to return to Communism, because, as they put it, they feel they are “missing hope” in a capitalistic society. Under Communism, even though most had very little and the same people told story after story of doing without and wanting for more, they at least knew what to expect. That was their definition of hope. I understand that capitalism allows a large amount of uncertainty and risk. There are few guarantees, but that is what makes it capitalistic, the ability for individuals to make a difference for themselves through hard work, risk and speculation.

If we ever start to legislate to the point of stopping the economy from ups and downs we should consider calling it something other than capitalism.

What do you think?

Leadership Requires Guts

The call to leadership often requires making difficult decisions no one else is willing to make. Over the years I have observed people who call themselves leaders, but they easily give up when difficult times come to the organization. Leaders should strive to structure the organization to weather storms, but in any organization there will be times when hard decisions have to be made and a leader must be willing to make them for the good of the organization. This does not negate the need for servant leadership, but it is a reminder that leading often requires making decisions no one else is willing to make:

Times such as:

  • When an employee is no longer a good fit…
  • When difficult changes need implementing…
  • When no one seems to agree with your decisions…
  • When you have to say no more than you get to say yes…
  • When a current system is broke…
  • When finances are strained…
  • When a new opportunity or direction presents itself…

A person that seeks to be a leader should look deep in his or her gut before they accept the position of leadership and consider if he or she has the ability to make the tough calls. As momma used to say, “If you can’t stand the heat…get out of the kitchen.”

Do you have the guts to be a leader?

What is the most difficult decision you have had to make as a leader?

Seeking God’s Protection and Comfort

iStock_000004677667XSmallBut you, O God, DO see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. Psalm 10:14 NIV

The man was really just trying to be nice. The cute little boy cowered, however, into his Daddy’s shoulder…..

I remember when my son was younger, three or less, and we would be in public and a stranger would come up to take notice of the cute little blonde in my arms. The more the person would try to get my son’s attention, the more my son would hide his face in my chest. We called it shyness, but it was really a son seeking protection in his father.

Do you ever have need to seek your Father’s protection?

We see so many hardships in life. We endure struggles and heartaches and are sometimes tempted to ask, “where is God in all this?” Often we fail to recognize God in the midst of trials.

May I assure you of something? God does see trouble and grief. He is not oblivious to our pain. He is carefully watching over His children. At just the right time, God will literally take our struggles in His mighty hand and lift us up out of our pit of despair.

The Psalmist talks about the victim. Have you ever felt like a victim? Do you often feel there is nowhere to turn?  God wants to protect His children. God is looking for victims who will call upon His name.

Climb into Daddy’s lap today! Rest your weary head on His powerful shoulders! Cast your burdens upon Him, because He cares for you! Tell Daddy you love Him and trust Him with all your heart! You might even want to read the Bible together.

Tell Him a little child sent you!

When An Organization or Business Can Be Inflexible

The vision or end goal or an organization or business should be consistent, but the way the vision is reached should mostly be flexible. As demands of consumers or clients change, as the economy changes, or if improvements need to be made to the existing methods of reaching the defined vision, an organization or business needs to remain flexible to tweaking the way it attempts to reach its set goals.

3347763849_3c7d5ed428There are times, however, when an organization or business can be totally inflexible.  Take my favorite Philadelphia breakfast dive, Little Pete’s Diner.  Little Pete has been doing the same thing, in the same building, with no remodeling and no major changes to their huge menu for years.   They are cash only, 2 people minimum per booth (NO EXCEPTIONS), they are not keen on substitutions (trust me), you get 2 minutes to decide on your order, and they turn tables quickly.  It’s a typical no nonsense diner that has won countless “Best Of” awards, but they are the way they are and they aren’t changing anytime soon.  Why? They offer the best breakfast in central city Philly and have good, cheap food 24 hours a day and people often wait to get a seat. Bottom line: they don’t have to, that’s why.

Here are some reasons I can think of that an organization can be inflexible:

  • When it is the best at what it does and there is no close second.
  • When there is no competition.
  • When demand for the product or service far exceeds supply.

For the rest of us, we may need to consider remaining flexible in our methods if we want to continue to realize our goals.  (Just ask General Motors about this principle!)

New Initiatives Coming This Fall

859261_92044453Recently I posted about the need to use the summer to plan for the fall. Read that post HERE. I have been heeding my own advice and dreaming and planning for the fall. This is going to be an exciting time. We are experiencing record growth at Grace Community Church, God is showing up mightily in people’s lives, and we think this fall is going to be crazy.

This week one of our elders stopped by my office to pray with me and I was able to share where my wheels have been spinning lately with him. Putting it all on paper excites me, so I thought I would share them here also.

Here’s the current major initiative list on my agenda for this fall:

Financial development. We want to work with our people to teach them Biblical principles of money and help those who are willing receive coaching in their own personal finances.

Serve Strategy. We have a 3-part strategy at Grace Community Church. Gather/Commit/Serve. This fall a major emphasis will be placed on the Serve part of that strategy.

Systems development. We have grown so fast and now we need some structure in place to sustain that growth and continue to grow. Read a post about that process HERE.

Staff development. We have an incredible staff, but new people have been added and we need to intentionally build understanding of and relationship with each other. We want build on our strengths and improve our teamwork.

Growth of people. We want to strategically think through the discipleship process at Grace through community groups and service opportunities to help people grow spiritually.

Social media. We want to expand our use of social media and take advantage of the cultural opportunities those mediums provide.

College Ministry. This is the year we intend to launch college ministry in a big way. We are excited about our outreach to Austin Peay State University! We love our university and college students!

What new initiatives are you planning for this fall?

Some Economists Want More Stimulus

us-money-photo

I have a few questions about the economy based on some recent news articles…

  • Did you know there are economists who claim the government needs to pump even more money into the economy?
  • Which number stimulus package would this be?  Who will pay for this one…China maybe?
  • Seriously, aren’t countries about tired of loaning us money so we can place it back in the economy?
  • Have we given the last two stimulus packages time to work?
  • Do we expect immediate rebound, considering the spending frenzy of Americans went on for numerous years that got us into this mess.

Just questions I am pondering….

Read this Business Week Story HERE.

What questions do you have?

Guest Post: Creating Systems For Worship Teams

2349_64241154877_678929877_2148714_488_nI decided my 18 year-old son’s latest post was important enough to steal it from him. I only wish I had written this first.  Great thoughts.  Nate has led in our student worship area for the last couple years and done an amazing job.  Our church is going to miss him this fall as he begins his college days at Moody Bible College in Chicago.  You can follow Nate’s thoughts at his blog Moons from Burma.

Here is Nate’s post on Creating Systems for Worship Teams:

For any organization to maximize its potential, GREAT systems have to be in place. You can have poor systems and still reach your potential, but your potential will just not be very potent.

One of the most important areas of church world is the worship team. If a church wants to maximize the potential of their worship environment, then it obviously makes sense that a GREAT system would have to be in place. The problem is this: the system builder types are typically not on the worship team. Usually the worship team consists of extremely abstract/creative people and people that simply want to help setup and tear down stuff. Both are vital to the team, but neither is especially gifted at building systems.

The temptation is to just let the worship environment take care of itself, because after all, creative ideas are probably flourishing already. However, creative ideas are not a system. If your goal is to maximize potential, you need a great system; which means you need a system builder. You need someone who can sit down and figure out how to get every part of the worship team on the same page; someone who can build a framework in which the creative ideas can be executed. Every second of the worship time needs to have been thought through with an ultimate purpose in mind.

The reality is that most worship leader positions are filled based on musicianship and vocal ability, not on LEADING ability. There are multiple types of leading that must be done in order to truly LEAD worship, and I would argue that the majority of it takes place behind the scenes on Monday and Tuesday, not on stage Sunday. So, if you are going to really take your church somewhere in terms of worship, you need a system in place. What that ultimately means is that you need a leader in your worship area… in addition to an artist.

Systems can be hard to build for a group of abstract/unstructured people, but ultimately there needs to be a great one to maximize your potential. You need structure to succeed, which also means you need a structured person on the team.

How does your church systematize its worship environment?

Random Observations from our trip to Lithuania

DSCF7044I have pages of random observations from my time in Lithuania.  I thought I would share them with you randomly. These are my opinions and these notes come right form my personal notes as I made observations while in the country and from conversations with Lithuanians.  In the coming weeks I will unpack some of them more.

  • The Lithuanians are still very much working under the impact of years of Soviet occupation.  You hear it continually in their conversations.
  • We need to be leery as a nation of trying to make everyone alike.  That is a basic goal of communism and it did not work for the Lithuanians.
  • If you remove a person’s ability to dream or succeed you run the risk of crushing their spirit.
  • There are fewer smiles in Lithuania, especially among older people, but the people are very warm and friendly once you get to know them.
  • Most stores and restaurants offer no customer service.  Under communism there was no such thing and it has not yet caught on in the country.
  • There are many fewer older men than older women.  The average age of a Lithuanian man is much lower than for Americans.
  • McDonald’s fries are good in Lithuania too!
  • One visit to the KGB museum will make anyone better appreciate freedom.  Read my post on that HERE.
  • There are few fences for cows.  Instead they chain cows to an assigned area.  Without the freedom to roam most of the cattle I saw were laying down, not eating as much and smaller than American cows.  (Does freedom impact a cow also?)
  • It is very easy to distinguish a Soviet building from a Lithuanian building.
  • Under Soviet occupation there were two styles of bicycles….one for boys and one for girls.
  • Lots of American companies are finding new markets for their products in Lithuania.
  • The whole world needs Jesus!

Those are just a few.  I will share more later.

10 Tips For Handling Conflict

In every life situation involving people, whether among family, friends or co-workers, there will be potential for conflict.  In fact, if relationships are normal, conflict is inevitable.   It seems to reason then that learning to deal with conflict successfully should be our goal, especially those of us who desire to lead organizations.

Here are 10 tips for more effective handling of conflict in your life:

  • Understand the battle.  What is the real source of the conflict? Make sure you are addressing with the real issue.
  • Find the right time and place to confront the conflict. When emotions are high is not good timing for dealing with conflict. Personal conflict should not be handled in public.
  • Examine yourself first. Sometimes the issue is personal to you and you are only blaming others for your problem.
  • Consider the other side of the conflict. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and consider their viewpoint in the conflict.
  • Do not overreact to the issue or overload on emotion.  Stick to the issue at hand.
  • Do not dance around or sugarcoat the issue or disguise it in false kindness.  Sometimes we fail to address the conflict because we are afraid of how the other person may respond or we are afraid of hurting feelings.  The avoidance usually will cause more conflict eventually.
  • Do not allow the small disagreements to become big disagreements without confronting them along the way.  Minor conflict is always easier to handle than major conflict.
  • Be firm but gentle.  Learn the balance between the two.
  • Work towards a solution.  Never waste conflict, but use it to make the organization and relationships better.  The best-case scenario is a win-win situation, but ultimately the conflict needs to be resolved with the right solution.
  • Grant forgiveness easily and do not hold a grudge or seek revenge.  Healthy teams handle conflict and allow it to make the organization stronger.

Those are my suggestions.  What would you add?